Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ready and willing

Here is a different translation of the Gateless Gate case #10, a Chinese version -- and comments by my friend, D.T..  He has practiced in the koan tradition for a long time.  At a retreat and in conversation with the teacher he relates how Steps 6 and 7 became entangled with this koan.

Qinshui, Solitary and Destitute

A monk said to Qinshui, "I am solitary and destitute. Please give me alms."
Caoshan said, "Venerable Shui!"
Qinshui said, "Yes, sir!"
Caoshan said, "You have already drank three cups of the finest wine in the land, and still you say you have not moistened your lips."

Step # 6:

We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

We cannot give away what is not ours.  The only way to loosen and maybe get rid of our habitual patterns of behaviour is through a recognition of these,  a deep knowing of them that only comes through seeing them over and over again with a certain openness of attention and a realization of having arrived to the bottom of our situation and having no room to run away any more. A surrendering.

Our problem is often that we feel guilty, and shameful and we naturally want to run away from this so we make promises, pray to a Santa Claus god to give us what we want, which I see is the running away, once we sometimes obtain some relief from our shame and guilt we are back again to our deep habitual patterns of behaviour and we start the whole process again. And so on the familiar process continues....

It is unsaid in the koan above of what happened to this monk but it is assumed that he had a certain opening that allowed him to see something very deep and elemental about his living, his life, right there at that moment!  He saw deeply and acknowledge his condition, he owned it. Quinshi's words became the catalyst for this to happen.  We have to own our habitual patterns and see them clearly, free of wishful thinking and just as they are and then maybe we can begin to be free from them.

This monk has arrived at that place that many of us know, the bottom of our conditioning and the suffering it brings, there is no place to go –the Dark Night of the Soul as John of the Cross calls it– but the breaking open in this experience is exactly what the Universe provides when we get there, it is always there, it has always been there.    We find ourselves entirely ready....

Step #7:

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

So our practice with these steps continues, our practice with this life of ours continues, we attend to it wholeheartedly, mindfully."


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After hearing D.T.'s experience with these two Steps AND a koan, it provided a spark, an incentive for me to delve deeper into Step/Koan relationships.  I had a Step/Koan relationship.  Now I was convinced that it can happen to others.

And so, 12 & Zen became a reality;  we began this PZi small groups project.

Bill K.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Steps 6 and 7: The Whole Doughnut Hole

“If I keep on turning my life and my will over to the care of Something or Somebody else, what will become of me ?  I’ll look like the hole in the doughnut” (P. 36 in the Twelve and Twelve).

I think I understand what the authors were saying here. By pondering this passage over time, a deeper revelation has come to me, giving the hole in the doughnut a more significant role than the original message may have conveyed.

The doughnut and the hole of the doughnut depend upon each other in order to remain complete –for without a hole, by definition, it would no longer be a doughnut. The hole is what makes a doughnut a doughnut!  The hole makes it whole.

We all can relate to the feelings we had when we first came to A.A., with an aching hole inside us that we couldn’t fill.  I know I didn't feel whole.  I tried booze but that didn’t work.

By working the Steps, the aching hole was eventually replaced.  No, I stand corrected… God’s love or one’s True Nature (What do you call it?) has always been there deep inside, but when drinking I was incapable of noticing, since all Icould think about was myself.

Our “doughnut hole” is our spirit.  Our practice is to notice it, bringing it to the forefront of our lives.  It’s that place before any thoughts appear, for that's how we live life to the fullest by embracing every moment.

In Step 6 we prepare ourselves and in Step 7 we humbly  ask God to remove our shortcomings. The act of turning things over and letting things go are pretty much integral to all of the Steps.  In my prior post I highlighted koan as spirit.  In this case it’s called doughnut hole spirit. In letting go we are tapping into our true self – who we really are -- our Universal Spirit.

Bill K.

Bill K

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July and Step Seven

Step 7:  Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Koan:  Case 10, Gateless Gate:

A monk, Seizei, eagerly asked Master Sozan, "I am solitary and poor.  I beg you, Master, please help me to become prosperous."

Sozan said:  "Venerable Zei!"

"Yes Master!" replied Zei.

Sozan said,  "You have already drunk three cups of fine Hakka wine and still you say that you have not yet moistened your lips."

Here is your July koan to sit with, along with Step Seven.

To sit with...this is what we hear much of the time.  Also to remember that this koan is about you, just as this Step is about you. 

Koan as spirit is what friend David Parks-Ramage said the other day.  Your spirit.  This koan is your spirit.

Bill K.